Learn about Fluoride

Fluoride happens to be one of the most abundant elements on the earth’s crust, the 13th most abundant in fact. It’s a chemical ion of the fluoride element and has a single extra electron, giving it a negative charge. It’s found naturally in the soil, in our water, our food as well as several other minerals including fluorite. The concentration of fluoride within our seawater would appear to average at around 1.3 parts per million or ppm. In fresh water however it naturally ranges anywhere from 0.01ppm to 0.3ppm, though there are parts of the world that are subject to fresh water with dangerously high amounts of naturally occurring fluoride and as a result, health issues arise in later life. 

On top of naturally occurring fluoride, there is also man-made fluoride manufactured in laboratories and it’s this that’s added to toothpaste, mouthwashes and more importantly our drinking water. Water authorities add this manufactured fluoride to our tap water under the pretense that it reduces tooth decay. Way back in the 1930’s, scientists found that any given population would benefit from two thirds fewer cavities if they were brought up in areas with naturally fluoridated water.

This was in comparison to those living within areas where the water wasn’t fluoridated. Since then a number of studies have repeatedly shown that fluoride (when added to people’s drinking water in areas with low levels) tooth decay still reduces. Most of the countries within Europe that opposefluoride in water however didn’t find any incidences of increased dental cavities. In Germany and Finland to be specific, decay rates were found to either remain stable or in some cases even lower when they ceased to add fluoride. 

What exactly does fluoride do?

As we mentioned above, fluoride is said to protect our teeth but do you know how exactly? Well first it offers protection from demineralisation. This occurs when bacteria and sugars within the mouth combine to produce acid. This acid will erode the tooth enamel and eventually cause damage to our teeth. Fluoride however can protect teeth from demineralisation and it can do this by remineralising them. Fluoride will accumulate within the demineralised areas and begin to strengthen the enamel. This process is known as remineralisation.

Fluoride can indeed be useful when it comes to preventing cavities however it’s far less effective if the cavity has already formed. Studies from the national health service has revealed that fluoride disrupts the process of tooth decay and it does this by altering the structure of the enamel that’s developing. This makes it more resistant to any acid attacks. It also provides an environment where better quality enamel is formed making the teeth more resistant to future acid attacks. Lastly, it helps to reduce the bacteria and its ability to produce acid, which happens to be a major cause of tooth decay.

These benefits (despite some studies suggesting otherwise) are all very well and good if we considered our only source of fluoride to be our tap water, however what happens when we take into account the fact that we actually receive more than enough fluoride from our toothpaste and mouthwash? What if we also take into consideration the fact that fluoride is only beneficial when it comes from topical contact making ingestion via water null and void, something even the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged? As adults, our bodies will only excrete 50%-60% of the fluoride we ingest, this means that half of the fluoride we aimlessly ingest via our drinking water will slowly build up and accumulate within our bodies.

Fluoride and its long term health affects

Fluoride and the brain - An analysis was carried out on 27 epidemiological studies. These found a direct correlation between childhood exposure to high levels of fluoride and a lowered IQ. The author did note however that this study was carried out on naturally occurring fluoride within tap water and not that typically found in artificially fluoridated water however they did conclude that as a result of these findings, more research was required to assess the adverse effects on children’s neurodevelopment. 

Fluoride and bones – toxic levels of fluoride have been associated with a weakening of bones along with an increase in hip and wrist fractures specifically. The US National Research Council found fractures with fluoride levels of 1-4mg/L suggested something called a dose-response relationship i.e. there was a change found at differing levels of exposure. Consumption of fluoride over a long period of time was also seen to lend itself to something called skeletal fluorosis and in some areas, such as the Asian subcontinent, there appeared to be a skeletal epidemic. Early stages of skeletal fluorosis aren’t clinically obvious however and are often misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis or even ankylosing spondylitis. 

Fluoride and kidneys – kidney injury is also something we need to be aware of when consuming fluoride over a long period of time. This is due fluoride-induced nephrotoxicity due to the high levels of serum fluoride. If levels are below the recommended dose, then there are no adverse effects expected however as fluoride accumulates within our bodies over our lifetime, these levels will eventually be reached. It should also be noted that those already suffering from impaired kidney function will find themselves more susceptible to the adverse effects than those with healthy functioning kidneys.

This particular kidney injury will involve failure to urinate which will eventually lead on to polyuria and as a result, dehydration. Fluoride can also stimulate intrarenal vasodilation affecting the medullary blood flow and as a result interfering with the mechanism within the kidney that’s needed for concentration of the urine. 

Fluoride and teeth – despite the fact fluoride is manufactured and then added to our tap water in order to protect our teeth, it can actually have an adverse effect in the form of dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis can alter the appearance of our children’s teeth during the developmental stage. Despite it being only an aesthetic concern, many worry about a child’s lack of a bright smile. After a number of dental studies were carried out into the affects of fluoride on our teeth, the chemical was found to effect one in every six ranging from the ages of four to twenty-one. It was also found to cause an aesthetic concern in around one in every twenty-two. 

Fluoride and thyroid – did you know fluoride was once prescribed by your doctor to help with an overactive thyroid? Fluoride has a suppressive effect on the thyroid (although it’s more severe when the person in question also suffers an iodine deficiency). The effect on our thyroid was associated with fluoride levels of 0.05-0.13mg/kg/day meaning you could actually be suppressing your thyroid with every mouthful of tap water you ingest. 

What is a safe level of fluoride within our drinking water?

When it comes to fluoride within our drinking water, the primary concerns can be summarised as follows:

  • Current standards of safety will only protect against obvious forms of damage to our health – the current safety standards are based on the fact that severe dental fluorosis along with crippling skeletal fluorosis are the first negative effects that will ever be present on the body due to fluoride consumption. Sadly, research has already proven that fluoride can in fact cause arthritic pain and bone fractures long before the onset of what’s deemed “crippling” fluorosis. It can also affect a number of other tissues within our bodies including our brains and thyroid as mentioned previously.
  • The current safe dose for fluoride would appear to fail when it comes to withstanding scrutiny – the Institute of Medicine aka IOM state that absolutely anyone, irrespective of age and health, can ingest 10mg of fluoride a day safely without it ever having any adverse reactions. This is despite the fact that they deem a dose of 10mg to be enough to cause clinical skeletal fluorosis after ten to twenty years exposure. Those with clinical signs can suffer a number of significant symptoms, which include joint pain and overt osteoarthritis. As you can imagine, this would instill very little confidence within our medical understanding of fluoride.
  • Some people are more susceptible than others – it’s a well-known fact that some populations are more susceptible to fluoridethan others. On top of this, there are rather large gaps in the safety literature on the effects that certain populations may be experiencing as a result of their current levels of exposure. This large degree of uncertainty makes the IOM’s conclusion of 10mg per day even more worrying. 
  • The margin between what’s deemed toxic and therapeutic may be extremely narrow – whilst some authorities will deem 4mg/l to be a safe upper limit, others have claimed it’s toxic to human health. Could the uncertainty of what’s considered safe and what’s considered unsafe show a rather narrow margin between the two making it too slim a margin to protect vulnerable members of our population? 
Rid your water of fluoride 

With the evidence before us, it would seem the only safe choice to make is to remove thefluoride in our drinking water. In this day and age, it would appear we receive all the fluoride we need via our toothpaste and mouthwash. On top of this, evidence has shown that only topical application of fluoride works, as mentioned above, making the fluoride within our drinking water pointless.

By using the process of distillation (the only proven method of water purification to actually remove fluoride) we rid the unnecessary additions that accumulate within our bodies along with the many dangers of fluoride itself. With such uncertainty surrounding the chemical, can you really afford to take the risk with the health of yourself and your family?

Source –10 Facts About Fluoride: Attorney Michael Connett, 10 basic facts about fluoride that should be considered in any discussion about whether to fluoridate water. 

Source –50 Reasons To Oppose Fluoridation: Learn why fluoridation is a bad medical practice that is unnecessary and ineffective.